thread: 2008-09-23 : Nonformalism?

On 2008-09-26, Brand Robins wrote:


I’ve been thinking along those lines (as it was my initial confusion in this thread), and about the stuff I said about Dogs.

This reminded me of something—my group is very verbal and description based, but we don’t do a huge amount of acting out. That is, we don’t have anyone who regularly gets up from the table and does what his character is doing.

I have, however, played with a lot of folks like that. And one of them really didn’t like Dogs because the whole “push the dice at the table” method of expressing system kept him clued to the table and his hands on dice. It disrupted his flow of expression.

So I think the thing is looking for a mode of expression of system that doesn’t disrupt whatever the flow of the target group is. (And I don’t think there is one way that will work for all groups.)

I also really like Dave’s invoking vs. evoking as it gets at another thing—the one I’d thought this thread was about initially. Its possible to bring up mechanics as something that lingers and sustains, but is never foregrounded or made the point. It is also possible to bring up mechanics as something you use at a moment, and in that moment it is the point.

A lot of folks would look at the second and say “that game is rules heavy” because it feels like it is—when the rules come out they take center stage and are the point for that moment. A lot of folks look at the first and say “that game is more freeformy” because the mechanics are never brought on stage with the spotlight on them.

However, in the first case it is very possible that the rules are being used more, informing the game more, and shaping the game more over time than in the second case. I’ve seen a lot of games played in which the people at the table were all about system matters and all about playing the rules of the game, but who when you watched their play the rules’ ability to provoke was limited to moments of conflict, because that was the only time when they were used.

This leads to a game that either requires a different lumpley system, or a game that focuses heavily and repeatedly on conflicts. Where as rules that are always there (evoked for the whole game rather than invoked in moments) may well support a more consistent and broad-based type of game.


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